High Performance Habits: #4 Increase Productivity 2 (part 11 of 22)

Practice One: Increase the Outputs That Matter

If you want to become extraordinary, you need to figure out the productive outputs that matter in your field or industry.

High performers have mastered the art of prolific quality output (PQO). They produce more high-quality output than their peers over the long term, and that is how they become more effective, better known, more remembered. They aim their attention and consistent efforts toward PQO and minimize any distractions (including opportunities) that would steal them away from their craft.

This point seems almost universally lost in a world where people spend over 28 percent of their workweek managing e-mail, and another 20 percent just looking for information. People spend eons of time on worthless activities – say, creating folders and organizing their e-mail – even though these have nothing to do with real productivity.

Part of your job is to figure out what “relevant PQO” means to you. For the blogger, it might mean more frequent and better content. For the cupcake store owner, it might be discerning the two best-selling flavors and expanding distribution on just those two flavors.

Figuring out what you are supposed to produce, and learning the priorities in the creation, quality, and frequency of that output, is one of the greatest breakthroughs you can have in your career. 

One of the great realizations of life can come from discovering that the outputs you are being compensated for are not exciting or fulfilling. When that realization comes, it’s time to honor that truth and make a change.

I chose to quit and begin my career as a writer, speaker, and online trainer. I saw the outputs of those efforts – creating content for inspiring and empowering others – as something that would be meaningful to me. The issue was, I had no idea how to start or what, specifically, to do. Like a lot of people new to the expert industry, I thought I had to figure out the writing industry, the speaking industry, the online training industry. I made the mistake of going to dozens of conferences to try to figure out each of the industries, without realizing they were all the same career of being a thought leader and had similar outputs that mattered most.

What changed the trajectory of my career that day was deciding, on a single page, what my PQOs would be. If I was going to be a real writer, then my productive output needed to become books. … I decided that if I was going to be a professional speaker, my PQO would be the number of paid speaking gigs at a certain booking fee.

I knew that if I was going to be an online course trainer, then my PQO would be curriculum, training videos, and full online courses. As I shared in the chapter on clarity, I stopped trying to learn every new marketing technique that came along, and put my full effort into creating and promoting online courses.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of this strategy. … No matter what topic or type of deliverables [you] decide to get productive toward, [you should] reorient [your] entire work schedule toward that endeavor. As quickly as possible, I want [you] spending 60 percent or more of [your] workweek oriented to PQO.


  1. The outputs that matter most to my career are …
  2. Some things I could stop doing so I can focus more on PQO are …
  3. The percentage of my weekly time I will allocate to PQO is …
    and the ways I’ll make that happen are …


Practice Two: Chart Your Five Moves

A lot of highly driven people think they don’t need well-defined plans. They have talent, so they just want to get in the game, hustle, wing it, and see what happens. That might work when they’re just starting out and everyone on the field around them is also uninformed. At that point, perhaps their innate, God-given talent can help them get ahead. But the advantage dies quickly. As soon as the other teams and players have actual experience and plans – they know the X’s and O’s, the routes and play calls – you don’t, you’re toast.

This is terribly difficult for high performers to hear. I can’t tell you how many high performers lose their perch at the top because of the inevitable distraction that comes from unfocused efforts. I’m not talking about the lazy kind of distraction. High performers are making things happen, all right. … But when they start making a lot of things happen with no unifying trajectory, they begin losing their power. 

And so, after all that we’ve discussed about finding the area where you want to create prolific quality output, it is now time to plan. Think of the most ambitious dream you’d like to take on, identify what you really want, then ask yourself: “If there were only five major moves to make that goal happen, what would they be?”

Think of each major move as a big bucket of activities, a project. These big five projects that move you toward achieving your dream can then be broking down into deliverables, deadlines, and activities. Once you’re clear on these things, put them into your calendar, scheduling the bulk of your time in protected blocks during which you do nothing but make progress toward the activity that the specific block is dedicated to. So, if I show up at your house and say, “Show me your calendar,” I should readily see the major projects you are working toward. If I can’t discern from your weekly and monthly calendar what major moves you are working toward, then you’re not optimizing your time and you’re at risk of getting sucked into a life of reaction and distraction. That, or you’re just going to have to take years getting a result that others could do in months.

High performers plan almost everything more than underperforms do: from workouts to learning, from meetings to vacation time. It’s easy to get confused at this point, thought, and become lost in tasks and overplaying. Lots of people will overcomplicate this. So let’s pause here and remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Know the big five moves that will take you to your goal, break those moves down into tasks and deadlines, then put them in a calendar. If that’s all you did, and you made sure these moves aligned with your PQO, you’d be ahead of the game.

Here’s a public example that I’m amazed worked so well. … I discovered that to get the results of a number one bestseller, all that really mattered were these five basic moves:

  1. Finish writing a good book. Until that’s done, nothing else matters.
  2. If you want a major publishing deal, get an agent. Or just self-publish.
  3. Start blogging and posting to social media, and use these to get an e-mail list of subscribers. E-mail is everything.
  4. Create a book promotion web page and offer some awesome bonuses to get people to buy the book. Bonuses are crucial.
  5. Get five to ten people who have big e-mail lists to promote your book. You’ll owe them a reciprocal e-mail – meaning you agree to promote for them later, too – and a portion of any sales they might make for you on other products you may be offering during your book promotion.

That’s it. I know it’s less inspiring than a “find your truth and write each day with magnificent passion and love for the audience whose hearts and souls you will impact forever” kind of thing. but these were the five major moves that most of the authors told me about. These were the ones that mattered most. I was stunned. And scared. I had no idea how to do any of these things.

It doesn’t matter whether you know how to achieve your Five Moves at first. The important thing is that for every major goal you have, you figure out the Five Moves. I you don’t know the moves, you lose.

It’s a simple process that my clients have used over and over again to achieve equally impressive results:

  • Decide what you want.
  • Determine the Five Major Moves that will help you leap toward that goal.
  • Do deep work on each of the major five moves – at least 60 percent of your workweek going to these efforts – until they are complete.
  • Designate all else as distraction, tasks to delegate, or things to do in blocks of time you’ve allocated in the remaining 40 percent of your time.


  1. The biggest goal or dream I have that I need to plan out right now is …
  2. The five moves that would help me progress swiftly toward accomplishing that dream are …
  3. The timeline for each of my five moves will be …
  4. Five people who have achieved that dream who I could study, seek out, interview, or model are …
  5. The less important activities or bad habits I’m going to cut out of my schedule so that I can focus more time on the five moves in the next three months include …

High Performance Habits: #4 Increase Productivity 1 (part 10 of 22)



To get the most out of this chapter, it’s important that you set aside any preconceived notions about work-life balance or whether seeking tangible achievements in life is a worthy goal. Stay openminded, because mastering this habit can have far-reaching consequences into every aspect of your life, especially how you feel about yourself and the world in general. Our research found that if you feel you are more productive, you are statistically more likely to feel happier, more successful, and more confident. You’re also more likely to take better care of yourself, get promoted more often, and earn more than people who feel less productive. These are not my opinions; they are important and measurable life outcomes that we’ve found in multiple surveys and studies.

Productivity Basics

The fundamentals of becoming more productive are setting goals and maintaining energy and focus. No goals, no focus, no energy – and you’re dead in the water.

Productivity starts with goals. When you have clear and challenging goals, you tend to be more focused and engaged, which leads to greater sense of flow and enjoyment in what you’re doing.

Energy is another huge factor in determining productivity. As we discussed in chapter three, almost everything you do to take good care of yourself matter in increasing your high performance.

You’ll recall that capital “E” Energy wasn’t just about sleep, nutrition, and exercise, but also about positive emotions.

Finally, if you’re going to be productive, you’ve got to maintain focus. This isn’t easy in the modern era. Information overwhelm, distractions, and interruptions cause dire consequences in both our health and our productivity.

These facts should get you seriously disciplined about setting challenging goals and keeping your energy and focus on track. But that’s hard work, and often those efforts are derailed by our assumptions that it’s just not possible. Too many people say they can’t set larger goals or maintain energy because their work-life balance would be upended. In fact, the conversation around work-life balance has become so absurd, I’d like to address it specifically before moving on to our habits.

The Work Life Balance Debate

The great mistake most people make is to think of balance in terms of evenly distributed hours. … That’s why I think there’s a better approach to thinking about work-life balance. Instead of trying to balance hours, try to balance happiness or progress in your major life arenas.

The solution is to keep perspective in life by keeping an eye on the quality or progress of the major life arenas. A simple weekly review of what we’re after in the major areas of our life helps us rebalance or at least plan for more balance.

I’ve found that it is useful to organize life into ten distinct categories: health, family, friends, intimate relationship, mission/work, finances, adventure, hobby, spirituality, and emotion. When I’m working with clients, I often make them rate their happiness on a scale of 1 through 10 and also write their goals in each of these ten arenas every Sunday night. Most of them have never done that before. But doesn’t it stand to reason that only from measuring something in the first place can we determine whether it’s in “balance”?

If you aren’t consistently measuring the major arenas of your life, then you couldn’t possibly know what the balance you seek is or is not. … this activity is just a simple check-in, I know, but you’d be surprised how powerful it is.

The other distinction generally missed about work-life balance is the it’s not so much about evenly distributed hours as about feelingsYou’ll always feel out of balance if you’re doing work that you don’t find engaging and meaningful.

Take A – Gasp! – Break

Your brain also needs more downtime than you probably think – to process information, recover, and deal with life so that you can be more productive. That’s why, for optimal productivity, you should not only take longer breaks – claim your vacation time! – but also give yourself intermittent breaks throughout the day.

If you want to feel more energized, creative, and effective at work – and still leave work with enough oomph for the “life” part – the ideal breakpoint is to stop your work and give your mind and body a break every forty-five to sixty minutes.

This means you shouldn’t work longer at any one thing without a mental and physical break for more than an hour tops. A break of just two to five minutes every hour can help you feel much more mentally alert and energized for your work and life overall.

For example, if you’re going to work on e-mail or a presentation for two hours, I recommend you get up from your chair at fifty minutes in, then take a fast stroll around the office, grab some water, come back to your chair, and do a sixty-second transition meditation. … If you want extra credit, also ask the desk trigger question from the previous chapter (on necessity): “Who needs my on my A game right now the most?”

Notice what’s not included during these breaks: checking e-mail, texts, or social media. Checking in is the exact opposite of our goal here: checking out so we can recharge.

Achievers often brush off this advice because they just want to sit and “power through” hours of activity at their computer or in meetings. But that’s exactly why they are feeling so wiped out in their home life and thus report a terrible work-life balance. Remember, hours at home versus at work is not the issue. It’s more about their feelings and overall sense of energy. Powering through is just bad advice. Studies of the world’s top performers in dozens of fields found that they don’t necessarily practice or work longer than others. It’s that they are more effective in those practice sessions or simply have more sessions (not longer ones). Putting in longer hours is almost always the wrong answer if yo wan too reach balance, happiness, or sustained high performance. It’s counterintuitive, but it is true: By slowing down or taking a break once in a while, you work faster, leaving more time for other areas of life.



High Performance Habits: #3 Raise Necessity 2 (part 9 of 22)

Practice One: Know Who Needs Your A Game

To help you tap into both the internal and the external demands of necessity, they this simple practice. Set a “desk trigger” for yourself. From now on, whenever you sit down at your desk – that’s the trigger action – ask: “Who needs me on my A game the most right now?

Butt hits chair; then you ask and answer the question.

You have to put yourself in situations that make you good. Fortunately, research has clearly outline exactly what will help you find those challenging and immersive experiences. This popular concept in positive psychology is know as flow. According to Mihay Csiksgentmihalyi, flow happens when several of these elements are in play:

  1. You have goals that are clear and challenging yet attainable.
  2. Strong concentration and focused attention are required.
  3. The thing you’re doing is intrinsically rewarding.
  4. You lose self-consciousness a bit and feel serene.
  5. Time stops – you feel so focused on the present that yo lose track of time.
  6. You’re getting immediate feedback on your performance.
  7. There’s a balance between your skill level and the challenge presented. You know that what you’re doing is doable even if it is difficult.
  8. You have a sense of personal control over the situation and the outcome.
  9. You stop thinking about your physical needs.
  10. You have the ability to focus completely on the activity at hand.

You can use this list as a list of conditions to increase the odds you’ll bring your A game to those you hope to serve.


  1. The people who need me on my A game at this point in my life are …
  2. The reasons each of those people need me include …
  3. The reasons I want to become a high performer for each of these people are …
  4. I know that I’m on my A game when I think, feel, or behave …
  5. The things that throw me off my A game are …
  6. I can deal more effectively with those things by …
  7. A few reminders i could set up for myself to be my best for the people in my life could include …


Practice Two: Affirm the Why

High performers don’t keep their goals, or the why behind those goals, secret or silent. They confidently affirm their goals to themselves and others. If there is one necessity practice that seems to divide high performers and underperforms the most, it’s this one. Underperforms are often unclear about their why, and they don’t use affirmations or speak about the whys they do have.

When we verbalize something, it becomes more real and important to us. It becomes more necessary for us to live in alignment with that truth. So that next time you want to increase your performance necessity, declare – to yourself and others – what you want and why you want it.


  1. Three things I would like to become extraordinary at doing are …
  2. My whys for becoming excellent in each of these areas are …
  3. The people I will tell about these goals and whys behind them include …
  4. The things I can say out loud to myself to affirm these whys – my affirmations – are …
  5. Some ways I can remind myself about these important goals and whys are …


Practice Three: Level Up Your Squad

One of the easiest quick wins is to have [my clients] spend more time with the most positive and successful people in their support network. … I tell my clients that their job is to start spending more time with the best in their peer group, and less with the more negative members. That’s an easy win. But it’s not the full picture.

If you truly want to increase your performance in any area of your life, get around some new people who expect and value high performance. Expand you peer group to include more people who have greater expertise or success than you, and spend more time with them. So it’s not just about increasing time with you current squad of positive or successful peers, but about adding new people to the squad as well.

They are more strategic and consistent in seeking to work with others at or above their level of competence, experience, or overall success.

They seek networking activities or group affiliations with more successful people. At work, they communicate more with people who are more experienced and often “above” them on the organizational chart. In their personal lives, they volunteer more, spend less time in negative or conflict-ridden relationships, and ask for help from their more successful peers more than others do.

This doesn’t mean that high performers have gotten rid of all the negative or challenging people in their lives. Somewhere, there’s this myth that to be happy or succeed, you have to “get rid of” all negative people in your life. We hear things like: “If someone doesn’t support your dream, dump them as a friend.” “Your spouse doesn’t cheer you on and meet your every need? Get a divorce!” “The kids at school don’t like your son? Change schools!”

This is half-baked advice. Learning to live with people who are different from you and who challenge you is just part of becoming a mature and resilient adult. “Cutting people out” of your life just because they’re not a bright and shiny ray of light all day every day will only result in you, alone on an island, talking to coconuts.

Build What You Need

Still, you don’t need to spend extraordinary amounts of time or give tremendous mindshare to negative people. People on a path of purpose don’t have a lot of time for drama. So here’s what I advise: Instead of “getting rid of” all the negative people in your life (especially if they are family, friends, loyal peers, or those wha are just in need), spend more time (a) hanging with your positive and successful peers and (b) building a new positive peer group.

How do you do that? Here’s my go-to list for helping someone get around a more successful group:

  1. Add one more awesome friend. To make a difference in your life, you don’t need dozens of new friends. You need one more positive person who brings out the best in you. So find your most positive and successful friend and ask him to bring one or two of his friends to your next night out. Then start hanging with them a little more often, just a half hour more per week. One more positive person leads you one more step toward the good life.
  2. Volunteer. This is always my first move in working with people who feel surrounded by negative people. Volunteers are spirited, positive people. They are givers. You want to be around that spirit of service for your own personal and spiritual development anyway. You also want to be around volunteers because they tend to be more educated and successful people.
  3. Play Sports. Join that intramural league. Visit that racquetball club. Get that golf membership. Hit the park and join more pickup games. Being in competitive situations teaches you to pay more attention to your own performance, and as we’ve learned, self-evaluation of performance promotes increased performance.
  4. Seek Mentorship. I tell high performers to have one or two lifelong mentors: older, wiser, highly respected, successful people. I want you to call them once per month. I also want you to have one new “domain mentor” every three years. this means someone who has precisely the expertise you need to succeed in your field. You should also call that person every month. These two mentors, one for life and another for specific domain expertise, will give you extraordinary perspective.
  5. Earn It. You want to get around more successful people? Then earn your way into that party by becoming exceptional at what you do. Work hard. Practice the high performance habits. Never give up, add a tremendous amount of value, and stay on the path to mastery. When you become supremely skilled and successful at what you do, doors will open and you’ll meet more and more extraordinary people.


  1. The most positive people in my life who I should hang out with more include …
  2. To add to the number of high performers in my network, I should …
  3. Some new routines or get-togethers I could create to bring together the positive and supportive people in my life could include …

High Performance Habits: #3 Raise Necessity 1 (part 8 of 22)



Necessity Basics

These are the factors in performance necessity (which I call the Four Forces of Necessity): identity, obsession, duty, and urgency. The first two are mostly internal. The second two are mostly external. Each is a driving force of motivation, but together they make you predictably perform at hight levels.


Internal Forces

Naturally, we all want to do a good job on things that are important to us. But high performers care even more about excellence and thus put more effort into their activities than others do.

The goal for all underperforms must be to set new standards, self-monitor more frequently, and learn to become comfortable with taking a hard, unflinching look at their own performance.

Sometimes the fastest way to get back in the game is to expect something from yourself again.

Go ahead and tie your identity to doing a good job. And remember to set challenging goals. Decades of research involving over forty thousand participants has shown that people who set difficult and specific goals outperform people who set vague and non-challenging goals.

See yourself as a person who loves challenge and go for the big dreams. You are stronger than you think, and the future holds good things for you. Sure, you might fail. Sure, it might be uncomfortable. But what’s the alternative? Holding back? Landing at the tail end of life and feeling that you didn’t give it your all? Trudging through life safely inside your little bubble bored or complacent? Don’t let that be your fate.

High performers’ dreams of living extraordinary lives aren’t mere wishes and hopes. They make their dream a necessity. Their future identity is tied to it, an duty expect themselves to make it happen. And so they do.

Obsession With Understanding and Mastering a Topic

If an internal standard for excellence makes solid performance necessary, then the internal force of curiosity makes it enjoyable.

What I know about high performers is that they do indeed spend an enormous amount of time thinking about and doing their obsession(s). Is this “abnormal”? Absolutely. But normal isn’t always healthy, either.

When high personal standards meet high obsessions, then high necessity emerges. So, too, does high performance. And that’s just the internal game of necessity. The external forces are where things really get interesting.

Before we move on to the external forces, spend some time reflecting on the following statements:

  • The values that are important for me to live include …
  • A recent situation where I didn’t live my values was …
  • The reason I didn’t feel it necessary in that moment to live my values is …
  • A recent situation in which I was proud of living my values or being a particular kind of person was …
  • The reason I felt it necessary to be that kind of person then was …
  • The topics I find myself obsessed with include …
  • A topic I haven’t been obsessing about enough in a healthy way is …


External Forces

High performers often feel the necessity to perform well out of a sense of duty to someone or something beyond themselves. Someone is counting on them, or they’re trying to fulfill a promise or responsibility.

It’s hard for underperforms to see that obligations are not always a negative thing, which is why we found that underperforms complain more about their responsibilities at work than their high performing peers. Some obligations can naturally feel like something to complain about. A sense of obligation to family, for instance, might lead you to live your parents or to send them money. This kind of familial duty might feel like a ball and chain to many, but meeting such duties also happens to correlate with positive well-being.

At work, a sense of “doing the right thing” drives positive emotions and performance as well. Organizational researchers have found that employees who are the most committed, especially in times of change, feel that it would be “wrong” to leave a company if their absence would hurt the company’s future. They often double down on their efforts to help their managers even though it requires longer work hours. Duty to the mission replaces their short-term comforts.

I learned that when you have the opportunity to serve, you don’t complain about the effort involved. When you feel the drive to serve others, you sustain solid performance longer. This is one reason, for example, why members of the military are often so extraordinary. They have a sense of duty to something beyond themselves – their country and their comrades in arms.

Real Deadlines

Why do athletes work out harder in the weeks immediately before walking into the ring or onto the field? Why do salespeople perform better at quarter’s end? Why do stay-at-home parents report being better organized right before school starts? Because nothing motivates action like a hard deadline.

What is a “real” deadline? It’s a date that matters because, if it isn’t met, real negative consequences happen, and if it is real, benefits come to fruition. … but just as important, high performers are not seeking to meet false deadlines. The reality is that when you choose to care for others and make a big difference in the world, the number of deadlines coming at you will increase.

Keeping the Fire

Identity. Obsession. Duty. Deadlines. As you can imagine, any one of these forces can make us bring up our game. But when internal and external demands mix, you get more necessity, and an even stronger wind at your back.

I’ll repeat the part about this being a sensitive topic. Lots of people really dislike necessity – they hate feeling any sort of pressure. They don’t want internal pressure because it can cause anxiety. And they don’t want external pressure because it can cause anxiety and real failure. Still, the data is clear: High performers like necessity. In fact, they need it. When it’s gone, their fire is gone.

Bottom line: We change and improve over time only when we must. When the internal and external forces on us are strong enough, we make it happen. We climb. And when it gets most difficult, we remember our cause. When we are afraid and battling hardship and darkness, we remember we came in the cause of light and we sustain positive performance over the long term. Here are three practices that can fire up a greater sense of necessity.

High Performance Habits: #2 Generate Energy 3 (part 7 of 22)

Practice Three: Optimize Health

When people are unhealthy, it’s not because they don’t know how to be healthy. We all know what to do to increase our physical energy, because by now it’s common sense: Exercise – work out more. Nutrition – eat healthier food. Sleep – aim for seven to eight hours. Nothing to argue about there, right?

Unfortunately, plenty of people do argue. They say a lot of nonsensical things that justify poor behavior in these areas. Too often, achievers blame their low physical energy on “how I’m built” or on the time demands of their industry, company culture, or personal obligations.

“Everyone in my industry works this hard, so I have to cut out something somewhere”

“Well, I’ve become successful sleeping only five hours, so sleep isn’t a factor for me.”

“I’ll focus on my health and happiness again in ninety days. I’m just busy now.”

“I’m just built this way.”

“I don’t have time for X.”

Get Fit Now

If you’re being honest, you know that the research is conclusive: You need to exercise. A lot. Especially if you care about your mental performance. … This is a huge point that too many people miss: Exercise improves learning. Exercise also decreases stress.

Because it increases your energy, exercise also enables you to perform general tasks faster and more efficiently. It boosts your working memory, elevates your mood, increases your attention span, and make you more alert, all of which increase your performance.

So if the demands of your job or life require you to learn fast, deal with stress, be alert, pay attention, remember important things, and keep a positive mood, then you must take exercise more seriously.

Once you get your workout routines in order, start improving your diet.

Beware of using meals as a way to push down negative emotions. If you feel bad, move. Go for a walk and change your emotional state before eating.

Where to Start

When I work with executives, I draw a hard line: If the organization you spend your week serving doesn’t promote well-being, then either you start an internal initiative that gets well-being on the map or you start looking for a new place to work. That is, if you care about working with high performers and becoming one yourself.

At my seminars, I challenge people to use the next twelve months to get in the best shape of their lives. It’s astounding how many people have never truly committed to doing that. If you’re willing, here are few things you can do to begin:

  • Start doing what you already know  you should be doing to optimize your health. You already know whether you should start exercising more, eating more plant-based foods, or getting more sleep. If you’re honest, you probably know exactly what to do. Now it’s just a matter of commitment and habit.
  • You should know every possible health measure about your body available. Visit your primary care doctor and request a complete health diagnostic. Tell them you want to get in the best health of your life during the next twelve moths and that you want every reasonable screening she or he has that will help you assess your health.
  • In addition to a full assessment by your primary care doctor, I suggest you seek out the best sports medicine doctor in your hometown. Find someone who works with the pro athletes. Sports med doctors often have an entirely different approach to optimizing health.
  • If you don’t know what to do for nutrition, find the best nutritionist in town to help you put together a customized meal plan. Make sure you test for food allergies and leave with a clear understanding of what you should eat, how much, and when. One visit to a great nutritionist can change your life forever.
  • Start training yourself to sleep eight hours a night. I say “training” because most people can’t sleep a full night – not because of biology but from lack of conditioning for sleep. Try this: Don’t look at any screens an hour before bed; drop the temperature in your home to sixty-eight degrees at night; black out the room from all light and sound. if you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t get up and don’t check your phone. Condition your body to just lie there. Start teaching your body that it has to lie in bed for eight hours no matter what. For tother sleep tricks, read The Sleep Revolution by my good friend Arianna Huffington.
  • Get a personal trainer. If you’ve made optimal fitness a primary goal in your life, under no circumstances should you try to optimize your physical health without a trainer. Yes, you can watch workout videos at home, but accountability to a trainer will make you better. If you simply can’t afford a trainer, then find a friend who is in phenomenal shape and ask them if you can start working out with them. Don’t let your ego get in the way – just because you can’t keep up doesn’t mean you can’t show up. Get on a regular workout routine and make it social.
  • If you want a simple start plan, and your doctor approves, I recommend you start doing two-by-two’s. That’s two twenty-minute weight-lifting-based workouts per week, and two twenty minute cardio-based workout routines per week. In all the sessions, give about 75 percent of your full effort – meaning, be more intense than casual during your workouts. That’s just four sessions of intense exercise per week. On the other three days, you can walk briskly outside for twenty to forty-five minutes. Again, consult your doctor to see if this is a routine that is optimal for you. And work up to it. Don’t jump in at 75 percent effort if you’re coming off the couch. Otherwise, you may hurt yourself or get so sore you decide that exercise just isn’t for you. And that would be a terrible outcome.
  • Finally, stretch way, way more. Just five to ten minutes of light stretching or yoga every morning and night will help you gain greater flexibility and mobility. It will loosen up your body so you’re not carrying so much tension.


  1. I want to get as physically healthy as I can at this stage in my life because …
  2. If I was going to get in the best shape of my life, the first three things I would stop doing would be …
  3. The things I would start doing include …
  4. A weekly schedule that I could use to get healthier and actually stick to would be …


Make the Commitment

Energy is critical to high performance. You can have all the other habits up and running in your life, but without mastering this one, you won’t feel good. No one wants to feel mentally foggy, drowned in negative emotions, or physically exhausted, Happily, though, these states are usually the results of bad decisions, not bad genetics. you can optimize your overall energy quotient in your life if you choose to.

High Performance Habits: #2 Generate Energy 2 (part 6 of 22)

Practice Two: Bring the Joy

Our research has shown that joy plays a huge part in what makes high performers successful. You might recall that joy is one of the three defining positive emotions of the high performance experience. (Confidence and full engagement in the moment – often described as presence, flow, or mindfulness – are the other two)

That’s why I suggest that if you decide to set one intention that will raise your energy and change your life more than any other, make it to bring more joy into your daily life. Joy won’t just make you a high performer, it will cue almost every other positive human emotion we desire in life. I don’t know of any more important emotion than love, though I also believe that love without joy can feel hollow.

To understand how they do this, I ask a group of randomly selected people who had score high on the HPI to describe how they generated positive emotions and feelings in general. What specifically brought joy into their lives (and what didn’t)? And what habits,  if any, did they deliberately make themselves practice in order to stay in joyful states for longer? What emerged from their responses is that high performers tend to follow similar habits every day. They tend to …

  1. … prime the emotions they want to experience, in advance of key events (or of the day in general). They think about how they want to feel, and ask themselves questions, or practice visualizations, that generate those feelings. (This aligns well with “focus on the feeling” from the previous chapter.)
  2. … anticipate positive outcomes from their actions. They’re optimistic and clearly believe that their actions will be rewarded.
  3. … imagine possible stressful situation and how their best self might gracefully handle them. As much as they anticipate positive outcomes, they’re realistic about hitting snags, and they prepare themselves for difficulties.
  4. … seek to insert appreciation, surprise, wonder, and challenge into their day
  5. … steer social interactions toward positive emotions and experiences. They are what one respondent called “conscious goodness spreaders.”
  6. … reflect regularly on all that they’re grateful for.

If you were to do these six things consciously and consistently, you’d feel pretty joyful, too. I know, because that’s what happened for me.

Getting my life back

Every morning in the shower, I asked myself three questions to prime my mind for a positive day:

  • What can I be excited about today?
  • What or who might trip me up or cause stress, and how can I respond in a positive way, from my highest self?
  • Who can I surprise today with a thank-you, a gift, or a moment of appreciation.

This simple morning practice can create anticipation, hopefulness, curiously and optimism – all positive emotions proven to lead to happiness and to positive health outcomes such as lower cortisol, less stress, and a longer life span.

New mental triggers

Every high performer I’ve every interviewed speaks about how they take control of their thoughts and bend them toward positive states of mind. They don’t wait for joy to land on them; they bring it.

  1. The first trigger was what I call the “notification trigger.” I put a phrase BRING THE JOY into my phone as an alarm label. I set the alarm for three different times throughout the day, and I set the text for the label of the alarm to read BRING THE JOY! I could be in a meeting, on a call, or writing an e-mail, and all of a sudden my phone would vibrate as the alarm went off and display those words. (As you learned in the chapter on Clarity, I also put other words and phrases in my phone to remind myself of who I want to be and how I want to interact with others.)
  2. The second trigger I set was what I call a “door frame trigger.” Every time I walk through a doorway, I say to myself, “I will find the good in this room. I’m entering this space a happy man ready to serve.” This practice helps me get present, look for the good in others, and prepare my mind to help people. What positive phrase or sentence could you say to yourself every time you walk through a doorway?
  3. The third trigger I set up was a “waiting trigger.” Whenever I’m waiting in line to buy something, I ask myself, “What level of presence and vibration do I feel right now, on a scale of 1 to 10?” By asking myself this question, I’m checking in on my emotional state, scoring it, and choosing whether it’s sufficient to how I want to feel and how I want to live my life. Often, when I fell at a level 5 or below, my mind snaps to attention and says, “Hey, man, you’re lucky to be alive. Raise your energy and enjoy life!”
  4. The fourth trigger I set up was a “touch trigger.” Whenever I’m introduced to someone, they get a hug. Not because I’m a natural hugger – I’m not. I started this trigger because I read so much research about how touch is vital to well-being and happiness.
  5. The fifth trigger I created was the “gift trigger.” Whenever something positive happens around me, I say, “What a gift!” I did this because so many high performers talked about t how they felt a sense of reverence or sacredness in everyday life.
  6. The sixth trigger was a “stress trigger.” My brain injury was causing me to always feel hurried, almost panicked. And then one day I decided that hurry and stress were no longer going to be part of my life. Stress is self-created, so I decided to stop manufacturing it. I always believed that we can choose an internal calm and joy even amid the chaos, so I decided to do just that. Whenever things felt like they were getting out of hand, I’d stand up, take ten deep breaths, and ask, “What’s the positive thing I can focus on and the next right action of integrity I should take now?” Over time, this practice took the power away from the stressful and hurried feeling caused by my injury.

To complement the triggers, I began an evening journaling activity in which I wrote down three things that made me feel good during the day. Then I took just a few moments to close my eyes and actually relive them.

Gratitude is the golden frame through which we see the meaning of life.

High performers cultivate joy by how they think, what they focus on, and how they engage in and reflect on their days. It’s a choice. They bend their will and behaviors to generate joy. This enlivens them but also serves others. And so it is now time to awaken and remerge into the world with a youthful spirit.


  1. Three questions I could ask myself every morning to prompt positive emotions for the rest of the day could be …
  2. Some new triggers I could set for myself include (see my examples of notification, doorway, and waiting-in-line triggers) …
  3. A new routine I could begin for replaying the positive moments of my days is …

High Performance Habits: #2 Generate Energy 1 (part 5 of 22)



Energy Basics

As you might expect, it takes a lot of energy to succeed over the long haul. High performers have the magical trifecta of capital “E” Energy – that holistic kind that includes positive and enduring mental, physical, and emotional vibrancy. It’s the key force that helps them perform better in many areas of their life. It’s why high performers have so much more passion, stamina, and motivation. if you can tap into the capital “E” Energy stored within, the world is yours.

You’ll notice that energy isn’t just physical, which is how most people conceive of it. Mental alertness matters, too. So does positive emotion. In fact, all three have been correlated with high performance. When I use the word energy in this book, then, keep in mind it means the full spectrum of mental, emotional, and physical vibrancy.

So low energy not only hurts your ability to reach high performance overall, it pervades all aspects of your life. You feel less happy. You don’t take on the big challenges. You feel as if everyone is passing you by. Your confidence tanks. You eat worse. You get fatter. You struggle to get people to believe in you, buy from you, follow you, support you.

But of course, the flip side also applies. Increase your energy, and you improve all those factors.

And there’s more. Energy is also positively related to educational attainment, creativity, and assertiveness. This tends to mean that the more energy someone has, the more likely they are to pursue higher levels of education, to come with creative ideas at work, and to speak up for themselves and take action toward their dream. That’s why organizations and academic institutions worldwide would get very serious about developing employee and student energy scores.

Bottom line: The more energy someone has, the more likely they are to be happy and climb to the top of their primary field of interest.

The good news is, you can dramatically increase your energy and overall performance with just a few simple practices. Your energy is not a fixed mental, physical, or emotional state. Again, you don’t “have” energy any more than a power plant does. A power plant transforms and transmits energy. In the same regard, you don’t “have” happiness. Rather, you transform your thoughts into feelings that are or are not happy. You don’t have to “have” sadness; you can transform it into something else.

This means you don’t have to “wait” for joy, motivation, love excitement, or any other positive emotion in life. You can choose to generate it, on demand, any time you want, through the power of habit.

Like any other area of your life or any other set of skills, it can be improved. Here are the big three practices I’ve seen high performers leverage to maintain their edge and their energy.

Practice One: Release Tension, Set Intention

In a decade of coaching high performers, I’ve found that the easiest, fastest, and most effective way to help them increase their energy is to teach them to master transitions.

What do I mean by transitions? Well, every morning when you wake up and start your day, you experience a transition from rest to activation. The start of your day is a transition.

At work, when you finish creating that presentation and now go to check e-mail, that’s a transition. You’re going from creative mode to e-mail mode. When a meeting ends and you walk back to your desk, sit down, and jump on a conference call, that’s a transition. The workday ends, you hop back into the car and head to the gym. Two more transitions. Pull up to your house after a long day and walk into your home to become Mommy or Daddy. Transition.

You get the idea. Our days comprise a series of transitions.

These transitions are immensely valuable – a powerful space of freedom between activities. And it’s in this space that you’ll discover your greatest restorer and amplifier of energy.

This about all the transitions you experience during the day. Take a moment and write a few of them down.

I’m convinced that if we can get you change the way you shift from one activity to the next, we can revitalize your life. So, are you ready for an experiment?

From now on, as you move from one major activity to another, try this:

  1. Close your eyes for the next minute or two.
  2. Repeat the word release in your mind, over and over. As you do, command your body to release all the tension in your shoulders, in your neck, in your face and jaw. Release the tension in your back and your legs. Release the tension in your mind and spirit. if this is hard, just focus on each part of your body, breathe deeply, and repeat the word release in your mind. This doesn’t have to take long – just a minute or two repeating the word release.
  3. When you feel you’ve released some tension – and it doesn’t have to be all the tension in your life! – move to the next part: SET INTENTION. This means think about what you want to feel and achieve in the next activity you’re about to take on when you open your eyes. Ask, “What energy do I want to bring into this next activity? How can I do this next activity with excellence? How can I enjoy the process?” These don’t have to be the exact questions you ask, but these are the kinds of question that will prompt your mind to be more present in the next activity.

I do this RELEASE TENSION, SET INTENTION activity before and after workouts, before I pick up the phone to call someone, before I write an e-mail to my team, before I shoot a video, before I got out of the car and go to lunch with friends, before I walk out onto a stage in front of twenty thousand people. it has saved me many times from anxiety and a poor performance: before I walked into a room and got interview by Oprah, before I sat down to dinner with a US president, before I proposed to my wife. All I can say is, thank God for this practice!

You, too, can find and summon new energy and life in the moments in between. Remember, just take a beat, close your eyes, and RELEASE TENSION, SET INTENTION.

Regardless of how you choose to take a break, meditate, or otherwise deal with stress, the idea is to form a habit and stick to it.


  1. The things that cause me the most amount of tension each day are …
  2. A way I could remind myself to release that tension throughout the day is …
  3. If I felt more energy each day, I would be more likely to …
  4. When I reset my energy each day with this practice, I’d like to start the next activity feeling …

High Performance Habits: #1 Seek Clarity 2 (part 4 of 22)

Practice Two: Determine the Feeling You’re After

The second practice that will help you heighten and sustain clarity in your life is to ask yourself frequently, “What is the primary feeling I want to bring to this situation, and what is the primary feeling I want to get from this situation?” … Most people are terrible at this.

High performers demonstrate a tremendous degree of emotional intelligence and what I call “willful feeling.”

My automatic emotions don’t have to be in charge. My feelings are my own.

… But I share this here because it’s so thoroughly obvious that high performers are generating the feelings they want more often than taking the emotions that land on them.


  1. The emotions I’ve been experiencing a lot of lately are …
  2. The areas of life where I’m not having the feelings I want are …
  3. The feelings I want to experience more of in life include …
  4. The next time I feel a negative emotion come up, the thing I’m going to say to myself is …


Practice Three: Define What’s Meaningful

High performers can do almost anything they set their heart and mind to. But not every mountain is worth the climb. What differentiates high performers from others is their critical eye in figuring out what is going to be meaning fun to their life experience. They spend more of their time doing things that they find meaningful, and this makes them happy.

What emerged was that high performers tended to equate four factors with meaning.

First, they linked enthusiasm with meaning. When forced to choose between two projects, for example, many mentioned they would do the one they could be most enthusiastic about. This finding dovetails with research findings that enthusiasm independently predicted life satisfaction, positive emotions, few negative emotions, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations, self-acceptance, purpose in life, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, and achievement. Clearly if you want a positive life, you would do well to summon as much enthusiasm as possible.

The second link to meaning was connection. … Like everyone else, high performers value the relationships they have in life and work. What’s unique about high performers, though, is that connection often correlates with meaning, especially at work. Connection is less about comfort than about challenge. In other words, high performers feel that their work has more meaning when they are in a peer group that challenges them. In their everyday life, too, they value being around inspiring people who push them to grow more than, say, people who are just fun to be around or are generally kind.

Third, high performers relate satisfaction with meaning. If what they are doing creates a sense of personal satisfaction, they feel that their life is more meaningful. Teasing out what “satisfaction” means to people is as difficult as finding out how they define “meaningful.” But for high performers, there is a clear equation for what leads to personal satisfaction. When your efforts correspond with one of your primary passions, lead to personal or professional growth, and make a clear and positive contribution to others, you tend to call those efforts satisfying.

Passion + Growth + Contribution = Personal Satisfaction

The fourth way that high performers say their efforts have meaning is by making them feel that their life “makes sense.” Psychologists call this coherence. It means that the story of your life – or of recent events in your life – is comprehensible to you in some way.

Often, the desire for things to make sense is more important to a high performer than are autonomy and balance. They will put their own desires for control or work-life balance aside if they sense that what they are doing makes sense and adds to a greater whole.

You may find this simple equation helpful:

Enthusiasm + Connection + Satisfaction + Coherence = Meaning

Not all of these factors need to be in play at once to give us a sense of meaning. … The important thing is this: You need to bring more conscious and consistent thought to what you will find meaningful in life. You start by exploring your own definitions of meaning and how to enhance it in your life. When you learn the difference between busywork and your life’s work, that’s the first step on the path of purpose.


  1. The activities that I currently do that bring me the most meaning are …
  2. The activities or projects that I should stop doing, because they are not bringing me any sense of meaning are …
  3. If I was going to add new activities that bring me more meaning, the first ones I would add would be …


Putting It All Together

You have to have a vision for yourself in the future. You have to discern how you want to feel and what will be meaningful to you. Without those practices, you have nothing to dream of and strive for, no pop and zest in your daily life propelling you forward.

We’ve covered a lot in this chapter. How do we put all these practices together so that our practices for clarity are strong and consistent?

[I use] a tool called the Clarity Chart. It’s a one-page journal sheet that [you] fill out every Sunday evening for twelve weeks. … download the full version at HighPerformanceHabits.com/tools

High performance clarity happens because we put these concepts up onto the dashboard of our conscious mind. Perhaps you’ve given occasional thought to the concepts we’ve covered in this chapter. But our goal is to focus on these things more consistently then you ever have before. That’s what moves the needle. With greater focus will come greater clarity, and with greater clarity will come more consistent action and, ultimately, high performance.

High Performance Habits: #1 Seek Clarity 1 (part 3 of 22)



Clarity Basics

Whether you have a high degree of clarity in life or not, don’t fret, because you can learn to develop it. Clarity is not a personality trait that some are blessed to “have” and others are not. Just as a power plant doesn’t “have” energy – it transforms energy – you don’t “have” any specific reality. You generate your reality. In this same line of thinking, you don’t “have” clarity; you generate it.

Clarity is the child of careful thought and mindful experimentation. It comes from asking yourself questions continually and further refining your perspective on life.

Clarity research tells us that successful people know the answers to certain fundamental questions: Who am I? (What do I value? What are my strengths and weaknesses?) What are my goals? What’s my plan? These questions may seem basic, but you would be surprised how much knowing the answers can affect your life.

Clarity on who you are is associated with overall self-esteem. This means that how positive you feel about yourself is tied to how well you know yourself. On the flip side, lack of clarity is strongly associated with neuroticism and negative emotions. That’s why self-awareness is so key to initial success. You have to know who you are, what you value, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and where you want to go. This kind of knowledge makes you feel better about yourself and about life.

Next, you need to have unambiguous and challenging goals. … You should also give yourself deadlines for your goals, or you won’t follow through. … Having a clear plan is as important as motivation and willpower. It also helps you see past distractions and inoculates you against negative moods – the more clarity you have, the more likely you are to get stuff done even on the days you feel lazy or tired. When you see the steps right there in front of you, it’s hard to ignore them.

Practice One: Envision the Future Four

High performers are clear on their intentions for themselves, their social world, their skills, and their service to others. I call these areas self, social, skills, and service, or the Future Four.


“Know thyself” is the timeless advice inscribed on the Temple of Delphi in Greece over 2,400 years ago. But there’s a difference between “know thyself” and “imagine thyself.” High performers know themselves, but they don’t get stuck there. They are more focused on sculpting themselves into stronger and more capable people. That’s another big difference: introspection versus intention.

We’ve found that high performers can articulate their future self with greater ease than others. Tactically, this means they tend to have a faster and more thoughtful, confident response when I ask them, “if you could describe your ideal self in the future, the person you are trying to become, how would you describe that self?”

In reviewing recordings from my interviews, it’s clear that high performers have thought about this more than others. … Now it’s your turn

  1. Describe how you’ve perceived yourself in the following situations over the past several months – with your significant other, at work, with the kids or team, in social situations with strangers
  2. Now ask, “Is that who I really see myself being in the future?” How would my future self look, feel, and behave differently in those situations?
  3. If you could describe yourself in just three aspirational words – words that would sum up who you are at your best in the future – what would those words be? Why are those words meaningful to you? Once you find your words, put them in your phone as an alarm label that goes off several times a day.


High performers also have clear intentions about how they want to treat other people. They have high situational awareness and social intelligence, which help them succeed and lead. In every situation that matters, they know who they want to be and how they want to interact with others.

If this sounds like common sense, let’s find out whether it’s common practice in your life:

  • Before you went into your last meeting, did you think about how you wanted to interact with each person in the meeting?
  • Before your last phone call, did you think about the tone you would choose to use with the other person?
  • On your last night out with your partner or friends, did you set an intention for the energy you wanted to create?
  • When you were dealing with the last conflict, did you think about your values and how you wanted to come across to the other person when you talked to them?
  • Do you actively think about how to be a better listener, how to generate positive emotions with others, how you can be a good role model?

Questions of this kind may help you look within and gauge your level of intention.

I’ve found that high performers also regularly ask themselves a few primary questions right before interacting with people. They ask questions like these:

  • How can I be a good person or leader in this upcoming situation?
  • What will the other person(s) need?
  • What kind of mood and tone do I want to set?

What is apparent across all high performers is that they anticipate positive social interactions and they strive consciously and consistently to create them.

Try this activity:

a. Write down each person’s name in your immediate family and team.
b. Imagine that in twenty years each person is describing why they love and respect you. If each person could say just three words to summarize the interactions they had with you in life, what would you want those three words to be?
c. Next time you’re with each of those people, approach your time with as an opportunity to demonstrate those three qualities. Have those words as the goal and start living into those qualities. Challenge yourself to be that person now. This will bring life back into your relationships.


Next, we found that high performers are very clear about the skill sets they need to develop now to win in the future. They don’t draw a blank when you ask them, “What three skills are you currently working to develop so you’ll be more successful next year?”

Look to the future. Identify key skills. Obsessively develop those skills.

Try this:

  1. Think about your PFI (primary field of interest) and write down three skills that make people successful in that field.
  2. Under each skill, write down what you will do to develop it. Will you read, practice, get a coach, go to a training? When? Set up a plan to develop those skills, put it in your calendar, and stay consistent.
  3. Now think about your PFI and write down three skills that you will need in order to succeed in that field five to ten years from now. In other words, try to imagine the future. What new skills will you likely need then? Keep those skills on your radar, and start developing them sooner rather than later.


The last of the Four Futures, after self, social, and skills, concerns how high performers look to tomorrow and consider their service to the world. Specifically, high performers care deeply about the difference they are going to make for others and in the future in general, so they cater today’s activities to delivering those contributions with heart and elegance. They may sound like a broad description, but it’s how high performers talk. They often speak of how all the extra efforts they make to wow people today are vitally important to leaving a lasting legacy tomorrow. That’s why, for many high performers, the details of how they treat others or approach their work truly matter. The high performing waiter obsesses over whether the table is set with symmetry and precision, not just because it’s his job but because he cares about the overall customer experience and how the restaurant will be perceived now and in the future. The extraordinary product designer obsesses about style, fit, and function, not just to create strong sales through this season but also to create devoted fans to serve a larger brand vision. What ties all these things together is the future focus conveyed in this question: “How can I serve people with excellence and make an extraordinary contribution to the world?”

The opposite is easy to spot.

When someone becomes disconnected from the future and their contribution to it, they underperform.


  1. When I think about the Future Four – self, social, skill, and service – the area that I haven’t had as much intention in as I should is …
  2. The areas in which I have not been considering those I serve and lead are …
  3. To leave a lasting legacy, the contributions I can start making now are …

High Performance Habits: Summary Guide (part 2 of 22)



  1. Envision the Future Four. Have vision and consistently set clear intentions for who you want to be each day, how you want to interact with others, what skills you must develop to win in the future, and how you can make a difference and serve with excellence. Never enter a situation without thinking through these four categories (self, social, skills, service).
  2. Determine the Feeling You’re After. As yourself frequently, “What is the primary feeling I want to get from this situation?” Don’t wait for emotions to land on you; choose and cultivate the feelings that you wish to consistently experience and share in life.
  3. Define What’s Meaningful. Not everything that is achievable is important, and so achievement is not the issue – alignment is. Look to upcoming months and projects and determine what might bring you enthusiasm, connection, and satisfaction – then spend more time there. Always be asking, “How can I make this effort personally meaningful to me?”


  1. Release Tension, Set Intention. Use transitions between activities to renew your energy. Do this by closing your eyes, practicing deep breathing, and releasing tension in your body and thoughts in your mind. Try to do this at least once every hour. Once you feel tension lift, set a clear intention for your next activity, open your eyes, and got to work with vibrant focus.
  2. Bring the Joy. Be responsible for the energy you bring to your day and each situation in life. Focus especially on bringing joy to your activities. Anticipate positive outcomes from your actions, ask yourself questions that generate positive emotions, set triggers to remind you to be positive and grateful, and appreciate the small things and the people around you.
  3. Optimize Health. If the demands of your life require you to learn quickly, deal with stress, be alert, pay attention, remember important things, and keep a positive mood, then you must take sleep, exercise, and nutrition more seriously. Work with your doctor and other professionals to optimize your health. You already know things you should be doing. Do them!


  1. Know Who Needs Your A Game. You cannot become extraordinary without a sense that it’s absolutely necessary to excel, for yourself and for others. From now on, whenever you set down and your desk, ask: “Who needs me on my A game the most right now? What about my identity and external obligations makes it imperative for me to deliver today?”
  2. Affirm the Why. When you verbalize something, it becomes more real and important to you. Speak your “why” to yourself out loud often, and share it with others. This will motivate you to live in concurrence with your commitments. So the next time you want to increase your performance necessity, declare – to yourself and others – what you want and why you want it.
  3. Level Up Your Squad. Emotions and excellence are contagious, so spend more time with the most positive and successful people in your peer group. Then continue building your idea network of supportive and empower people. Ask, “How can I work with the best people as I embark on this next project? How can I inspire others to raise their standards?”



  1. Increase the Outputs That Matter. Determine the outputs that matter the most in determining your success, differentiation, and contribution to your field or industry. Focus there, say no to almost everything else, and be prolific in creating those outputs with high standards of quality. Remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
  2. Chart Your Five Moves. Ask, “If there were only five major moves to make that goal happen, what would they be?” Think of each major move as a big bucket of activities, a project. Break the projects down into deliverables, deadlines, and activities. Once you’re clear on these things, put them into your calendar, and schedule the bulk of your time working on them.
  3. Get Insanely Good at Key Skills (Progressive Mastery). Determine the five major skills you need to develop over the next three years to grow into the person you hope to become. Then set out to develop those skills with obsessive focus through the ten steps of progressive mastery. The Most important thing is to always be developing the critical skills to your future success.


  1. Teach People How to Think. In every situation of influence, prepare by asking yourself how do you want other people to think about (a) themselves, (b) other people, and (c) the world at large. Then go communicate that consistently. Shape people’s thinking by saying things like: “Think of it this way …” “What do you think about …” “What would happen if we tried …”
  2. Challenge People to Grow. Observe people’s character, connections, and contributions, and actively challenge them to develop those things even further. Ask people if they gave their all, if they could be treating those around them better, and if they could give even more or serve with even greater excellence and distinction.
  3. Role Model the Way. Seventy-one percent of high performers say they think about being a role model daily. They want to be a good role model for their family, the team, and the greater community. So ask, “How can I handle this situation in a way that will inspire others to believe in themselves, be their best, and serve others with integrity, heart, and excellence?”


  1. Honor the Struggle. When you have the opportunity to learn and serve, you don’t complain about the effort involved. View struggle as a necessary, important, and positive part of your journey so that you can find true peace and personal power. Don’t bemoan the inevitable hardships of self-improvement and chasing your dreams; have reverence for challenge.
  2. Share Your Truth and Ambitions. The main motivation of humankind is to be free, to express our true selves and pursue our dreams without restriction – to experience what may be called personal freedom. Follow this impulse by consistently sharing your true thoughts, feelings, needs, and dreams with other people. Do not play small to placate others. Live your truth.
  3. Find Someone to Fight For. We need a noble cause to rise for. High performers tend to make that cause just one person – they want to fight for that person so they can be safe, improve, or live a better quality of life. You will do more for others than for yourself. And in doing something for others, you will find your reason for courage, and your cause for focus and excellence.

These six habits and the three practices that strengthen each are your path to an extraordinary life. There are other basic strategies in the book, but these mix meta-habits are the ones that most move the needle toward progress.

For even more resources, including checklists, posters, assessments, day planners, journals, and corporate training tools, visit HighPerformanceHabits.com/tools.